Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto ("RaMChaL"):

Let me now discuss the Temple Courtyards in all their various details, and you will hear the most glorious wisdom. I will skip over certain other subjects that I should have discussed now and leave them until the end, because I am following the path of the flow of blessing, as I have already stated.

As the highways and pathways extended from the Foundation Stone outwards, two great areas appeared, one in front of the Temple building and the other surrounding both the Temple and this first area. Let me explain all this in detail.

These two areas were in the form of two great courtyards standing in front of and around the Temple. The first is called the Inner Courtyard, the second the Outer Courtyard. These are the places of all the King's armies and attendants who stand at His service. They have leaders who are in charge of the entire army. These leaders have their own special areas. These leaders are the Serafim, whose power is enormous. They stand by the Throne. All the other troops are encamped under their various flags. Over them stand officers, lower than the Serafim, who give them their orders and supervise all their activities so that everything runs properly without a hitch. The officers receive from the Inner Courtyard, while the lower angels and other troops receive from the Outer Courtyard.

These Courtyards are surrounded by lofty walls, which keep all the lights within their limits. The thickness of the walls is the same as the [length of the] measuring rod [six cubits], and they have gates enabling the flow of light and blessing to go forth, as I will explain in more detail later on.

Three gates of the Inner Courtyard

The Inner Courtyard has three gates: one to the south, one to the north and one to the east. Each gate is ten cubits wide since ten groups of angels must receive from each one. The height of the gates is fifty cubits. I have already explained this secret above (see "Height of the gates" p. 87).

However, since the lights had already traveled some distance from the place of amazing connection, the center column no longer had the same great power as when it first emerged from the Sanctuary, for its strength was already weakened. For this reason the east gate of the Inner Courtyard, corresponding to the center column, was no different from the gates on the two sides. Now all three were alike, and each had a gateway to itself.

Vestibules of the Inner Courtyard

As each of the gates opened up, a vestibule appeared before it, as I have already explained. For what occurred only in the case of the center column [when the light went out of the Sanctuary gate] now occurred in the case of the two side columns [as the light went out of the gates of the Israelite Court]. However, the dimensions of the Vestibules of these gates are different from those of the Sanctuary Vestibule, for the lights going forth from the gates of the Israelite Court are not the same as the lights that go forth from the Sanctuary. In the case of the gates of the Israelite Court, the names of YHVH and EHYH made their vestibules eight cubits wide [corresponding to the eight letters of the two names]. Joined to them were the two columns whose identity and measurements you already know.

Three chambers on each side of the gates

As these gates opened up in the walls to allow the flow of blessing to pass outwards, the most beautiful chambers appeared on both sides of each gate, three to the right and three to the left. The three chambers on each side of the gate open into one another, while the entrances to the two chambers immediately adjoining the gate on either side face one another.

Let me now tell you some great secrets concerning these entrances. You must understand that in order for the flow of blessing that goes out into the worlds to be perfectly balanced and suited to the needs of their inhabitants, it must always have the proper blend of Judgment and Mercy. "Right" and "left" in the Chariot allude respectively to Mercy and Judgment. Nothing is able to attain its properly rectified state except through male and female. For this reason the lights are "male" and "female", and together they adjust and balance the flow of blessing so as to bring all things to a state of perfection.

This explains why these chambers are found here. Their secret is bound up with their root: a triad of Chesed-Gevurah-Tiferet to the right and a similar triad to the left. The inside measurement of each chamber is six cubits, for here the Vav, the male element, predominates. The thickness of the walls of the chambers is five cubits, for here the Heh, the female element, predominates. Thus each of these chambers is a union of male and female.

The blessing and sustenance suitable for all the Serafim is already gathered within the Inner Courtyard. When the flow of blessing passes through the gate, it immediately enters these chambers first, for the flow of blessing leaving from the right enters the left-hand chambers, while the flow leaving from the left enters the right-hand chambers. The flow of blessing is rectified in the three chambers on each side and adjusted in a balance of Kindness, Judgment and Mercy depending on whether Kindness or strict Judgment holds sway. It is the Vav and Heh, male and female, that make the adjustment. Afterwards the flow goes forth with perfect balance ready to be given to those who require it.

Roofs of the chambers

Let me tell you what causes the flow of blessing emerging from the gates to make a detour into these chambers instead of going straight out. When the gate opened, the three lights that made thirteen, as mentioned earlier [see "Walls and gates" p. 77], passed through. As they went out, they joined together with twelve other lights standing at the gate itself. These are the twelve letters אלף דלת נון יוד. Together they make a total of twenty-five. These twenty-five lights spread out on both sides from the roof of the extreme right-hand chamber to the roof of the extreme left-hand chamber. These lights did not go very far out. They simply spread out across the width of the chambers on both sides above their roofs but not below.

Thus as the flow of blessing leaves the gate, these lights shine down into it from above. The power of this light causes the flow of blessing to broaden and flow to the sides like the lights above instead of simply spreading outwards. It is then that the right side of the flow enters the chambers on the left while the left side of the flow enters the chambers on the right until everything is brought into perfect balance.

After being rectified in these chambers, the flow of blessing goes forth from the openings of the two chambers immediately adjacent to the gate on either side, and the two streams join together in the middle to make one. Then another light shines on it and brings it outside to be given to its intended recipients.

The prophet alludes to this when he says: "And he measured the gate from the roof of the chamber to the roof" (Ezekiel 40:13). You should understand that all the various measurements and dimensions are only mentioned because they allude to some aspect of wisdom and are known to be necessary for the proper government of the worlds.





Translated by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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